What was once considered a passing craze among teenagers is now a staple in many marketing plans. If you haven’t made the decision to jump on the social media bandwagon already, chances are good you’re considering it now. Then comes the million dollar hold up question, “Where do I start?” I have business owners ask me this question every day. And every day I give them the same advice I’ll give you. Start small, stay consistent and be yourself. And with a little monitoring the rest will fall into place.
You don’t have to do it all. Just because you’re on Facebook doesn’t mean you have to be on Twitter. And just because your neighbor is on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you should be too. Choose the network that best matches your ideal customer so you can write for that specific audience. Look at their demographics, psychographics and lifestyle.
I ran this idea by Collin Bunch, an advisor at the Small Business Development Center. Collin teaches classes to business owners covering this very topic, one of which I’ve attended. He agreed with starting small, also adding, “A big thing people miss with social is being extremely targeted and focused. You should really “get it” and have some results before trying too many things.”
Taking the start small approach is about testing and monitoring. There’s not a cookie cutter answer for success. All networks display information differently and not all audiences react to information in the same way. Start small with one or two targeted networks and master them before moving on to more.
Your social media strategy should consistently promote a targeted and balanced content mix. This starts by setting goals about what to post and how often. And last but not least, sticking to it.
Collin agrees, setting goals is crucial to a successful campaign. “Ultimately, what is your strategy? Posting random inspirational quotes is neat, but consistently hitting content and messages that your customers value will grow your business,” said Collin.
As mentioned earlier, success is network and audience dependent. Consider posting a mix of content including:
For example, an active Facebook page may be most successful with two posts per day using a balanced mix of content types. Collin explained, “It’s a huge red flag when a company’s tweets are all about them.” In his experience a thriving Twitter audience may appreciate three posts per day and respond better to a content mix with very little brand promoting posts.
Determining the perfect content balance for your audience may require a little trial and error. Keep track of the type of content your audience responds to best and adjust your mix accordingly.
Collin also agrees that adding a visual with each post, such as a picture, infographic or video, is a must. You may post the same message on two networks, but phrase it differently or include different visuals. To further engage your audience, consider including an implicit call-to-action in each post. For example, 34 questions to ask before hiring a design company.
Strive for frequency consistency as well. A hundred posts in one day and nothing for three months isn’t the same as one hundred posts over the course of three months. Consistent posting improves your company’s visibility and develops credibility with your audience. Following up with the people who engage with you is another way to position yourself as a trustworthy, credible source.
Your business is special because it’s yours, don’t be afraid to be yourself in any marketing endeavor, especially in social media.
“Customers want to hear from the owners and as authentic people, not some mix-up of buzzwords. When owners get over their fear/shyness and jump in they end up owning the space,” said Collin.
If you have a team contributing to social media set rules for how you talk about your business and service and share them with all who post. Guidelines create checks and balances to keep your business’s voice consistent and the message meeting your standards.
Like all other new business endeavors social media is best tackled one piece at a time. Break down your social media launch into smaller tasks and as you’re planning keep in mind: start small, stay consistent and be yourself. You can do it!
Collin refers to this graphic when advising businesses on how to achieve “the perfect post”.